The culture club: 6 tips for becoming an art collector

Noel Vasquez/WireImage/GettyImage
Noel Vasquez/WireImage/Getty Images

Collecting art can seem daunting, unapproachable and, in many cases, simply out of our reach. Yet, when you ask seasoned collectors how they started, many of them say that they bought their first piece in their 20s or 30s. So how to begin when you are young, working hard and have only a small amount of disposable income?

We asked a dear friend and avid art collector this question over a cup of coffee in Toronto. He provided us with the handy list below (and trust us when we say this is coming from a real expert):

Frequent art fairs, which are more casual and comfortable than “hushed” galleries, and will allow you to determine what types of work you like, as there are so many styles and approaches to take in.

Visit museums of all types in every city you visit, including your hometown (Torontonians, get reacquainted with the ROM, Power Plant and AGO). We get so caught up with exploring when away—it’s time to appreciate the amazing stuff we have in our own backyard!

Don’t be intimidated by art babble. When you visit galleries, force yourself to ask lots of questions about the art. Most dealers will want to tell their story. If they say something that you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. Don’t be embarrassed—you are there to learn!

Visit the “elite” galleries. These galleries are not expecting walk-in buyers. The shows are meant to be seen—that’s why they have them in the first place.  If you like some of the work featured, take the time to Google the artist post-visit to learn more.

Subscribe to This is a necessary art-buying tool, with a wealth of information for collectors at all stages.

Never ask a friend for their opinion. Art is subjective. It’s most important that you like it. Listen to yourself and your instincts, but do take the time to get educated and understand the story behind the art.

Finally, he says: “Put some thought into what you are buying but most importantly, just buy what you like!”

Ashleigh Dempster and Amanda Blakley are the co-founders of The Society Global, a social club with chapters in Toronto, New York, L.A. and Miami.  For more info on The Society Global, visit their website,, or follow them on Twitter at

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